Philly’s IBF champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer Fought Calzaghe and Ottke and Now Talks to Doghouse!
By Ken Hissner, Dog House Boxing (Jan 9, 2015)
Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer
Philly’s Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer, 40-11 (28), won the IBF super middleweight title in 1997 defending it three successful times. Previously he won the USBA title the year before and made one title defense.
In Brewer’s fourth defense of the IBF title he traveled to Germany in the first of two meetings with unbeaten 1988, 1992 and 1996 German Olympian Sven “Phantom” Ottke, 12-0, losing by split decision in 1998. He would try to win it back the title in 2000 only to lose another split decision, both in Germany.
In 2002 Brewer went to the UK to try to take the WBO title from Joe “Pride of Wales” Calzaghe, 32-0. In 2004 he went to Germany in an attempt to take Mario Viet’s, 44-1, interim WBO title. He then finished his career in his next fight in Denmark against Lolenga Mock, 23-9-1.
Brewer won his first fourteen fights before losing to southpaw Robert Thomas, 9-41-3 and 14-41-3 in back to back fights four months apart by split decision. Brewer won his next eight fights by knockout so there wouldn’t be any “split decisions” at the final bell.
In speaking about the Thomas fights Brewer had this to say: In a word… ROBBERY”!! That’s as clearly as I am able to define it. In the first fight (which wasn’t televised) I nearly knocked this guy out, beat him from pillar to post and yet LOST?? In the second fight (which was televised on ESPN) at least the public got a visual opportunity, to witness again, a stolen Victory. In the second fight, I chose to out box Thomas, and delivered twice as many punches, as he had thrown. BUT in this fight a lesson was learned by me. Up to this point in my career (prior to my first loss), boxing was really fun to me, I had begun to obtain local recognition, both in the boxing community and the local newspapers.
However, upon being given those two losses, I had a totally different outlook on boxing. While the fun part of boxing had taken a back seat, immediately, I became the HATCHET in the gym, I began training for destruction of my opposition (I became a menace to any and all, sparring partners that shared the ring with the Hatchet) this is not a word of lie, just ask around Philly!! Also, boxing had become a job for me! My job was to win, by any and all means necessary!! In short, the BUSINESS of boxing was slowly but surely, introducing itself to team Brewer. I had been blessed, to have a trainer like Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts and a manager like Augie Scimeca who looked out for the betterment of my boxing career. I remained with these two for my entire career,” said Brewer. That in itself is a rarity!
In 1994 he dropped three out of four fights with losses to Lonnie “Honey Bee” Beasley, 21-1, and Panama’s Rafael Williams, 32-13, and the last one being by split decision to unbeaten Rodney “the Punisher” Toney, 18-0-2. In 1995 he scored a pair of knockouts. In 1996 he won the USBA title defeating Frank Rhodes, 22-3. He defended it once defeating Greg “Mr. Everything” Wright, 13-1-1 in 1997. This earned him an IBF title fight.
“Well in the Beasley fight it was a case of the perfect punch being thrown at the perfect time. He caught me with a good shot and no excuses! In the Williams fight I was killing myself to make 160 and I fought off Williams for as long as I was able to with the strength I had, until I was caught with an overhand right. It was after this fight I moved into the super middleweight division,” said Brewer.
Brewer won the vacant IBF title stopping South Africa’s Gary Ballard, 22-2-1. He made the first title fight in his first defense at the legendary Blue Horizon defeating Joey DeGrandis. Then he defended the title twice by knockouts over the former British, Empire and European champ Herol “Bomber” Graham, 48-5, after coming off the canvas twice himself (judges had it even after 9), in Atlantic City and USBA champ Antoine Byrd, 21-6-1, in Germany. Both Graham and Byrd would never fight again. “Against Graham, Charles came back to the corner with a broken foot. I told him drop him now or I’ll stop the fight,” said Augie Scimecca.
In Brewers first meeting with Sven Ottke in Germany he lost his title. In his next three fights he scored second round knockouts before getting a rematch with Ottke and losing again.
A knockout over Mexican Esteban Cervantes, 23-3-1, followed and then a loss for the NABA title to Antwun “Kid Dynamite” Echols, 24-4-1, after having Echols on the floor three times in the previous round.
“Talk about a gun fight with Echols, yet another, I lost in controversy and a bout televised live on Showtime, for the NABA super middleweight title was talk about gun fights! Fight fans saw me floor Echols three times in the second round, only to see the bout then halted by referee Mike Ortega in the third round after I was caught with an uppercut, but was still very stable on my feet. Echols himself told me in our bout it was the hardest that he had ever been punched. I guess I can’t totally complain though, as it was because of my performance in this fight that set-up the bout with Calzaghe,” said Brewer. His manager/trainer Scimecca agreed. “What the referee Mike Ortega should have done is stop the fight in the previous round when he had him down several times. He wasn’t hurt in the third round bad enough to stop the fight,” said Scimecca.
Then he won the vacant NABF title in his next fight over Eduador’s Fernando “Little Ali” Zuniga, 21-4. Brewer then followed with three wins defeating NABF champ Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton, 24-2-1, in a war stopping his winning streak of 12-0-1, light heavyweights Etianne “E.T.” Whitaker, 27-8-2, and Freemon “The Natural” Barr, 25-3, before losing to both interim WBO super middleweight champ Mario Veit, 44-1 and finally to EBA light heavyweight champ Lolenda “Lumumba Boy” Mock, 23-9-1 before retiring in April of 2005.
Pertaining to Pemberton: “This match took place at the Foxwoods Resort, in CT. In a match that has made ESPN CLASSICS! Pemberton and I went to war for six rounds. Boxing fans saw me hit the canvas, re-group and return the favor, as I floored Scott, face first, with a series of body shots in round six, as the fight was called off by referee Steve Smoger.
“I remember the Hatchet’s fights with Pemberton and Mock but not specific aspects. I can tell you that Charles always came into the ring in excellent condition and ready to fight. He was always all business in the ring. Charles fought hard and he fought clean. He was a pleasure to work with – no complaining and no excuses,” said Steve Smoger.
A comment from one of boxing’s best cut-man and also a promoter JOEY EYE: The Hatchet was the epitome of a true Philly fighter. With his shear toughness and a great left hook…we came up in boxing at the same time. I looked up to him. I had been on a few undercards a few times with Brew. He never let the fans down. Always gave it his all. When he won the super middleweight title I was very happy that a real Philly fighter had captured the title. Later in his career I was training my fighters in the same gym (Augie’s Gym in S. Philly) Brew was training in. He always worked hard and was always a very approachable guy. Charles “the Hatchet” Brewer was Philly boxing in every sense of the word.
J RUSSELL PELTZ: I was chasing to sign Hammer Jones around 1989. He was a good puncher and I’d watch him train at the South Philly boxing club around 9th st near Pat’s Steaks. Brewer was in there every day but my eye was on Hammer and finally I got him to sign. I put Brewer on a card at the Blue Horizon as a favor and there was an early knockout in one of the TV fights so Brewer’s fight with Jerome Johnson got on USA and Ron Katz watched it and signed Brewer shortly afterward w/Top Rank. This caused a problem and Augie Scimeca tried to get me to release Hammer to go with TR also because it was a better deal but I refused. But after he lost twice in a row to Robert Greg Thomas, Brewer was released by TR and I grabbed him up and he won 8 in a row by KO, several of them on USA and he made the world ratings at 160 until that disastrous year of 1994 when he lost 3 out of 4 and got KOd twice. So he was on the back burner and I hadn’t seen him in the gym but Augie kept telling me that Brewer was going make it and for some reason I believed Augie so when Brewer finally returned I got him 2 tune-ups and then he beat Frank Rhodes for the USBA SM title and that got him to the top of the ratings. To this day I believe Brewer’s 12 round decision over Rhodes is the most outstanding performance by any boxer who ever fought at the Blue. He completely dominated. After a couple of interim fights and he got the shot for the vacant title in Tampa against Gary Ballard and destroyed him.
The first fight against Ottke was a terrible dec but Charles made the mistake of coasting in the 12th round and he made the fight close enough to steal and they stole it. I should have done a better job of checking out the neutral official from IT that was my fault. I believe Ottke himself knew he lost that night but he’d never admit it. The rematch with Ottke was closer but Charles still got hosed. Charles lost his cool in the Echols fight. When Echols got up from 3 knockdowns in the 2nd round and made it to the bell I told my wife that Brewer was finished for the evening but the corner couldn’t calm him down enough to use his head and simply jab at Echols until another opening presented itself. Instead he went out there firing on all cylinders and walked into shots and got stopped. The Calzaghe fight I told Charles this later that night was a terrific slugfest but it was the only time I ever saw Charles really beaten in a fight. Calzaghe was the clear winner 8-4 on my card and Charles agreed. The Pemberton fight was a classic and I told the corner before the 6th round not to let Charles get hurt he was fading at the time and then he goes out and finds renewed energy and KOs Pemberton in a classic. We maneuvered him back into the No. 1 slot by beating Whittaker and Freeman Barr and without a hint he left me – our contract had expired and we had been working on a handshake for close to a year so he went and signed with Lou DiBella and our relationship really has never been the same since. I am cordial and we joke but it was hurtful and although he says it was strictly business, I never saw it that way. He fought twice for DiBella and got KOd both times and I told him someone up above punished him for leaving me. Charles Brewer gave you your monies worth every time win or lose, and that’s the highest compliment you can give a fighter.
BOBBY WATTS: I worked with Charles in the amateurs. He was a good kid who overcame some tough obstacles like a hip operation and got shot. He was always very determined, gutty and had will power. It was a shame in the Ottke fights because every time Ottke who was running landed a punch the fans went wild. Though the second fight was closer Charles would have won both if they were in the states. Augie and I had different styles of training but he is one really good guy and we always worked things out.
AUGIE SCIMECCA: Charles Brewer is one of the nicest guys in the world. I had no problems with him and he never questioned who he was fighting. I helped train him along with Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts. He and I always got along. I gave him that left hand for those body shots. He got robbed in the first Ottke fight. The second one was close but I thought he won it.
KEN HISSNER: After retiring you did some writing didn’t you?
CHARLES BREWER: Correct, I began writing initially for Ringside Report www.ringsidereport.com and later for Philly Keith www.phillykeith.com. Writing is something that I find to be relatively easy for me as well as talking boxing. However I did learn a few pointers about how to properly format the story/article (s), usage of proper diction and correct grammar usage. However with boxing this in itself becomes a Sweet-Science!
KEN HISSNER: Who trained you?
CHARLES BREWER: None other than the legendary trainer Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts. “Boogaloo” has been in my corner from my amateur days thru my professional career.
KEN HISSNER: You had 15 battles at the Blue Horizon probably second only to Rodney Moore. What was so special fighting there?
CHARLES BREWER: I’d definitely have to say that it was the atmosphere. The Blue Horizon is and could be a constant reminder of one of those arenas that you see in old cinema films where the room is smoke filled, profanities are very audible and you’d instantly know whether or not the crowd is for you or against you as the crowd would not hold back their feelings of enthusiasm or lack thereof.
KEN HISSNER: You win the USBA title which puts you into the IBF rankings and eventually an IBF title fight. What were your feelings after winning the title?
CHARLES BREWER: It was one of the greatest feelings, of my life! It felt like…FINALLY, all the hard work and dedication, paid off! I had acquired a title that would be carried for life……Champion!
KEN HISSNER: After two defenses you travel to Germany and defeat fellow American Antoine Byrd. Byrd had just defeated fellow Philly boxer Willie “The Worm” Monroe for the USBA title. Ottke was a winner on the undercard in Germany when you beat Byrd. What were your feelings about returning to Germany but this time against German Ottke?
CHARLES BREWER: To be honest, I hadn’t given it much thought (the fight itself) being Ottke only had twelve fights! To me there wasn’t a fighter on the planet with just twelve fights that was going to defeat me despite his amateur background. Again, the business of boxing raised its ugly head. I again LOST by SPLIT decision, a fight in which the title that I had sacrificed, suffered and was willing to defend absolutely anywhere in the world, was stolen. In all, my career, I have never literally beaten down a fighter in the manner that I did in the first fight with Ottke. Ottke’s reign as a world champion is an absolute FARCE!! I certainly hope that NO consideration is given to induct him into the IBHOF!! I felt that by my title being taken at that time the more lucrative opportunities that I had been seeking to unify titles and seek out bigger named opponents, had been completely side-tracked and was now off course.
KEN HISSNER: Ottke made six defenses in the meantime before your rematch. What were you’re feelings about those two losses to Ottke?
CHARLES BREWER: They were POLITICAL losses!! Ottke had never fought outside of Europe, only in Germany. As far as I’m concerned, he was barely a contender! Those losses, cost me $$$$ dearly. I had just begun to get the ball rolling and suddenly, everything was halted, on that level anyway!!
KEN HISSNER: You work your way back into a title fight with Calzaghe. What kind of fight was it and compare him to Ottke. Both ended up making 21 title defenses and Calzaghe going into the IBHOF in 2014.
CHARLES BREWER: At the time the Calzaghe fight was offered, I also knew very little about him. However, Calzaghe is totally different. We went to WAR! It was a very entertaining fight, however, I didn’t stick to the game plan that I trained to execute and this I believe, cost me the fight. I take nothing away from Joe for he is, just as I, a WARRIOR! In fact we still communicate with each other. In fact he provided me with tickets to his match vs Roy Jones at MSG. There’s mutual respect between the two of us.
KEN HISSNER: Mario Veit was 44-1 when you lost to him. Did he compare to Ottke and Calzaghe?
CHARLES BREWER: No comparison, well not at least to Calzaghe. When I fought Veit I weighed in at like 166. I hadn’t been at that weight naturally since winning the IBF belt. I was weak as a lamb, but I fought on for as long as I could’ve. Veit, just like Ottke, I hadn’t heard of, other than viewing a tape of Calzaghe beating him.
KEN HISSNER: Was your title defense against Joey DeGrandis the first at the Blue Horizon?
CHARLES BREWER: Yes Sir! It was history, in the making. I am forever grateful to have been one of the many combatants, but the ONLY World Champion to have ever defended a World Championship at the Legendary Blue Horizon. DeGrandis gave a courageous effort in his attempt to dethrone the “Hatchet”, but was merely outclassed and outgunned on 12-02-97
KEN HISSNER: What are your thoughts that they not only don’t hold fights at the Blue anymore but may demolish it?
CHARLES BREWER: It’s a shame. It is a historical venue, one of the most famous boxing venues in the world. THIS would be a very sincere instance where the BUSINESS of boxing, should and can, raise its head and again show its Power, Resolve and restore this great venue.
KEN HISSNER: Charles you are always receptive to the fans. I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. (Still sharp, The Hatchet reminded me I didn’t ask him about his fights with Echols and Pemberton so I back tracked and put them in. After all he was a writer and knows his stuff)
CHARLES BREWER: Ken, in closing, I gave boxing my absolute all! It for me became the vice where I was able to express a lot of my adolescence. Angers. Upon becoming a young adult, I began to realize, that I had become the Chose One, by Boxing (YES Boxing chose Me, I didn’t choose it!) That I absolutely loved the physical and mental challenges, it resented for me, to become successful. I would awaken each day enthused about the challenges; boxing was going to bring me for the day. Yet, as an active boxer/athlete, I wasn’t exactly a fan of boxing. I surely hope that my athletic accomplishments are one day commended and I, Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer become an inductee into the IBHOF and the WBHOF.
Please send all questions and comments to Ken Hissner at: Kenhissner@gmail.com
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